Best of Retractions Part III: Whatever can go wrong …

Paging Dr. Murphy.

In July, the editors of Cancer Biology & Therapy published a retraction remarkable for its scope. Apparently, nearly everything dishonest authors can do to doctor a manuscript, these authors did.

The paper, “Overexpression of transketolase protein TKTL1 is associated with occurrence and progression in nasopharyngeal carcinoma,” initially appeared on the journal’s website in January 2008. It came out in print three months later, in the April issue, and has been cited 8 times since, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

The authors were Song Zhang, Jian Xin Yue,  Ju Hong Yang, Peng Cheng Cai and Wei Jia Kong, of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Hubei, China. It will be quite clear why we listed all those authors in a moment. Continue reading Best of Retractions Part III: Whatever can go wrong …

Do plagiarism, fraud, and retractions make it more difficult to trust research from China?

Yesterday, we blogged about the retraction of a paper in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology from a research team in China. The paper — claiming that tai chi helped women with arthritis — was riddled with inconsistencies and plagiarism.

Today, plagiarism and fraud made the front page of the New York Times.

Coincidence? Continue reading Do plagiarism, fraud, and retractions make it more difficult to trust research from China?

Rheumatology journal retracts tai chi-arthritis paper over fraud concerns

Most retractions happen in the dark: An article appears in print. One day it is withdrawn, with only a brief paragraph or two on the page to alert us to its fate.

On rare occasions, however, the process is more transparent, and when that happens it’s like the publishing equivalent of a supernova, a chance to glimpse in (here’s where the cosmic analogy stalls) almost real-time the retraction as it unfolds.

Here’s one of those unusual events.

The Journal of Clinical Rheumatology this week has retracted a March 2010 paper by Ni and colleagues in China, in which the authors reported that elderly women with osteoarthritis of the knee gained significant improvement in physical function and pain from a six-week course of tai chi. That claim is hardly controversial—other researchers have produced similar results and published studies of tai chi’s benefits for arthritis patients date back nearly a decade on Medline.

But the appearance of the article prompted an extraordinary letter to the journal, also published this week, from Chenchen Wang, of Tufts University, who smelled a rat. (Wang recently published a study of tai chi and fibromyalgia in the New England Journal of Medicine, which was criticized by some.) Of the Ni paper she writes (we added a link): Continue reading Rheumatology journal retracts tai chi-arthritis paper over fraud concerns

Best Of Retractions Part II: Keyword search “Irony” as paper on Google infringement case plagiarized

For would-be plagiarists, now is both the best and worst of times. Thanks to Google and other search tools, never has it been easier to appropriate someone else’s thoughts or words. But the Internet taketh away, too—offering up scads of sleuthing software that promise the ability to sniff out cheats.

Which is what makes this post about a retraction in Computer Law & Security Review all the more delicious. As they say in the law, res ipsa loquitur: Continue reading Best Of Retractions Part II: Keyword search “Irony” as paper on Google infringement case plagiarized

Redundancy, redux: Anesthesia journal retracts obesity paper in self-plagiarism case

Sometimes redundancy — the topic of our last post — is a failure of editors to adequately vet a manuscript. Other times, the blame falls more squarely on the authors.

Consider: In the August 2010 issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia, a highly regarded specialty journal, five researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, led by Andrew Ochroch, made a remarkable confession.

Their article in the May issue of A&A on ventilation of patients recovering from bariatric surgery plagiarized a 2009 paper in a competing publication, Anesthesiology — written by the same group:

We sincerely apologize for the inappropriate and unacceptable intellectual overlap and self-plagiarism of our paper … published in Anesthesiology.

Sincere apologies are better, we suppose, than insincere ones. But, never mind. They go on: Continue reading Redundancy, redux: Anesthesia journal retracts obesity paper in self-plagiarism case